Most freelancers and web agencies focus 99% of their energy on finding new website projects and producing excellent work. But eventually, you have to address the question: how much support will you provide to clients after the website launches?
The answer can depend on a lot of factors, including your team size, resources, and your pricing structure for services.
If you bypass planning for post-launch support and fail to set expectations with clients, the time will surely come when a veritable flood of requests for website support arrives from panicking recent or not-so-recent clients.
Tips on Managing Post-Launch Client Support
1. Set Clear Expectations from the Start
When investing in a new website, a lot of clients assume that they’ll receive on-going support from you (if you are a freelancer,) or your team after the site launches. If you don’t address the support situation until after the launch, you’re likely to end up with frustrated clients and misunderstandings.
At the beginning of all projects, talk to your clients about what support and maintenance they can expect for their new website. You’ll want to cover what kind of training is included and whether any fixes or changes are factored into the project cost for a given period of time after the launch, perhaps for 30 days. Then, describe what kind of support your team can provide, from a monthly support and maintenance package to an hourly service.
If a client is opting into a paid plan for support, make sure you are very clear on what type of fixes are included. Beyond problem-management, you might include a complimentary hour of edits or refinements each month, as part of the pricing.
2. Train Your Clients Well
Training is an important aspect of every web project. Even if you are redesigning a website, include at least 1 hour of training in the project cost. It’s best to schedule the training before the site launches, so the client feels comfortable using the site right away.
You can also arrange two short training sessions and schedule one before launch and one after launch to address common questions that arise after the new site is ready.
Before scheduling a training session, always ask your client who will be the site manager on their team. The site manager will be working with the site most directly, making edits and updating content, and therefore will get the most out of the training session.
By training your clients well, you’ll reduce the number of support requests and questions related to WordPress edits and simple tasks. Finally, you may want to offer additional paid training sessions to the client after launch, in case, for example, a year after launch, the client has a new team member who needs additional training.
3. Provide Resources & Tutorials
While training a client on their new website helps to address a lot of questions, most clients will need help in the future with various WordPress tasks.
The good news is that since WordPress is the most popular website platform, there are tons of free WordPress resources available, including WordPress training plugins. A popular option is WP Video User Manual plugin, which allows you to offer WordPress tutorial videos directly in the dashboard for clients.
In addition to standard WordPress tutorials, consider creating a video tutorial for any complex development or functionality aspect of the website. This can be helpful if you’ve done customizations for which the client wouldn’t have any standard resources to refer to.
4. Establish an Emergency Support Protocol
Providing excellent support is not only about client communication; it’s also about your internal team processes.
When it comes to websites, emergency situations typically refer to when a website goes down and is inaccessible. In this scenario, it’s understandable for clients to panic.
If you don’t have a clear process established to help your internal team resolve emergency situations, you can expect chaos. Clients notoriously use every method possible to communicate with every possible team member, for as long as necessary, until the situation is resolved. Before any issues arise, establish a clear process for your team detailing what to do in emergencies, what documentation to request, and which team member to direct the concern to.
Better yet, share the relevant aspects of this information with your clients, so that they know who to contact, how, and with what information. In this way, they’ll know you have their back before anything even happens.
Most freelancers and web agencies don’t have the resources to provide 24/7 phone support to clients. Therefore, before disaster strikes, define the process for any after-hour calls and emergencies.
5. Be Proactive with Security & Maintenance
One of the best ways to prevent website outages and problems is to regularly maintain each WordPress site. Because of the popularity of WordPress and the thousands of plugin options, WordPress sites can be prone to security issues and bugs.
Updating the plugins and theme once a month on your client’s site can help you stay on top of any security issues, as security patches and fixes are often released with each plugin update.
It’s also best to install 24/7 security monitoring on each website or on the hosting server level. Monitoring can help your team identify any security issues that could be causing problems on the site.
Lastly, if you are running into numerous problems on a website, you may want to evaluate the hosting server. Placing a WordPress site on a shared hosting server with limited resources can cause downtime and slow speed scores. Addressing the hosting level is often a good place to start.